Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among [shepherds guarding their flock in a field at night], and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior–yes, the Messiah, the Lord–has been born to you today in Bethlehem. . . Suddenly, the angel was joined by a host of others–the armies of heaven–praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ Luke 2:9, 10 New Living Translation
Wait . . . “the armies of heaven”? Was this about war? Absolutely! The armies of heaven above those Bethlehem hills heralded the all-time greatest rescue operation of all: the delivery of humanity from the brutalities of sin, ushering in a world of peace, blessedness, fullness. Thrilling human rescues may involve Navy Seals; Special Ops; divers pulling 12 boys from a flooded cave in Thailand; paramedics freeing 18-month-old Jessica McClure from a backyard pit in Midland; Apollo 13; and right here at home, scores of volunteers battling hunger at Keene Community Food Bank. But the herald angel used three names to identify for the shepherds–and for you–the One who would bring peace on earth. The first name was “Savior,” a Hebrew word meaning rescuer; then “Christ,” a Greek word for “the anointed one, the chosen one.” The third was a word used by Greek-speaking Hebrews to refer to God Himself. The angels predicted this peace will come when we give glory to God in the highest. The peace does not come when the arms race ends. Peace will not come with arms limitations treaties. Peace does not come when a general glow of good will wells up and we all feel magnanimous about our neighbors. The angels give us the precondition for peace–that we give glory to God in the highest.” (Bruce Larson, Mastering the New Testament, Vol. 3, Luke 2)
To intelligently wage war, we need information. In his book “Honest Evangelism” London pastor Rico Tice observes that England is about 20 years ahead of the U.S. in terms of society’s secularization process. Tice says, in an interview about his book, that as London has become an increasingly secular city, he has come across three basic attitudes related to faith in Christ: Christians are weird, Christianity is untrue, and Christianity is irrelevant. “Now, increasingly, I am also seeing a fourth attitude: Christianity is intolerant.” He believes that both Great Britain and the U.S. are quickly moving toward the days described in 1 Peter 2:12: “Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when He judges the world.”
Still, secularized people often stop by a church at Christmas and Easter. Watch for them this Sabbath. Make their visit a beautiful Bible adventure! Be friendly, and if they seem open to you, in a winsome way help them find texts in their Bible as Pastor Michael preaches . . . or point out Scripture onscreen. Let this be their report as they go home: “The word of the Lord is ringing out from [Keene Church] everywhere, . . . We don’t need to tell [people] about [your faith in God], for they keep talking about the wonderful welcome you gave us and how you turned away from [21st Century] idols to serve the living and true God. And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God’s Son from heaven–Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.” 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 (Adapted from interview with Rico Tice, author of “Honest Evangelism”)
Enjoy a Star Party at the Thomsen Observatory tonight, December 21, 6:30 to 8:30 PM. The moon will be full, the Orion nebula will be visible in the east, and the Pleides should be especially lovely. Hope to see you there tonight. The Observatory is located in Keene, behind the pond.
Michael Gibson, our Pastor for Young Adults, will preach for our 9:00 and 11:30 Sanctuary worship services. The Brazos Chorus, directed by David Anavitarte, will present our worship music. Ruben Perez Jr. will join our Forever Family by profession of faith during first service, officiated by Administrative Pastor Rick Weaver. Southwestern Adventist University’s Vice President for Spiritual Life and Development Russ Laughlin and our Pastor for Youth, Carlos Pasillas, will each officiate at baptisms during second service. Keene Adventist Elementary School student Elian Pasillas will play “Angels We Have Heard on High” on the piano as our children enter for their story, told by Sandra Putnam. Sipho Ndebele will offer congregational prayer. Rick Weaver will call for the offering, which will support Texas Vision. Steve Bradley will serve as Deacon in Charge.
Young Adults, Russ Laughlin will preach for The Middle Service in the Fellowship Hall at 10:00. Come and be blessed on this Sabbath before Christmas! Be sure to look around for unfamiliar faces and welcome our Christmas guests, too! Elevate will not meet on December 29. After this Sabbath, we’ll resume on January 5.
We’ll be going to Fort Worth to distribute blankets, coats, and other warm clothingto the homeless this Sabbath. We will meet in the south Fellowship Hall parking lot at 3:00.
A special Christmas Concert performed by Enspire (known for their play “Journey”) will be hosted by Elevate in the Fellowship Hall at 5:00. Enjoy wonderful Advent Season music together. A love offering will be taken.
Thank you to the 80 volunteers who helped at the Keene Community Food Bank last Sabbath. Because of your help we were able to LIFT 221 families–over 600 people. Next food bank is January 19!
Wednesday night Bible Study will not meet this week. We look forward to starting the new year continuing our study of Revelation, led by James Winegardner, on January 2! We’re only half way through this fascinating book. Come and learn together in exciting Christian fellowship on these chilly winter nights!
Year-end church office schedule: We will be open Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 26-28; and Wednesday through Friday, January 2-4.
Do you have year-end giving questions? Our Treasurer can help you. When the office is closed (December 26, 27, 28, 31, and January 1), feel free to call Jose Aparicio at 682-702-4260. Thank you for your generous financial support in 2018. May God continue to bless you in 2019!
We will not have a general church potluck in January. We hope to resume in February. If you’d like to be a part of a team to help prepare and serve these monthly meals, please text or email Pastor Travis soon.
“Family Table Talk” is coming on Sabbath evening, January 12. Don’t miss this fun evening for families to eat, mingle, and compete for prizes. A special guest will speak on family issues. Starts at 5:30 PM.
Meals on Wheels comes to our Annex! On January 7 we’ll have a group meal from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Meat and vegetarian meals are available. Please fill out an application at the church office to join us.
Steve Green brings a concert to our Sanctuary on January 19, 7:00 PM! It’s free, so you’ll want to arrive early to get a good seat!
Coming in January: Bible by Design! Pastor James Winegardner will lead this involving Bible study class twice monthly, on the second and fourth Sabbath afternoon, from 2:30 to 3:30 in Gathering Place Room 106.
Church Board will next meet on January 29.
Keene Adventist Elementary School is a ministry of Keene Church and provides Christian education for children grades Pre-K through 8th grade. KAES offers music, technology, PE to round out a strong academic program.
Chisholm Trail Academy’s goal is to create a safe educational environment that fosters the development of a relationship with Jesus, promotes a life-long love of learning and service, and nurtures the optimal growth, potential, and character of each individual student.
Southwestern Adventist University is proud to be a part of the Keene Church family. The University’s family-oriented, Christ-centered atmosphere, supported by the Keene Church, offers the right environment for students to learn, grow, and live a life of service.
- The Hal Wright Science & Religion Lecture Series presents “Reality Still Matters,” with Tim Standish, Geoscience Research Institute, Saturday, January 12, 4:00 PM, Wharton Auditorium.
A “Celebration of Life” for Carol Bradley, Steve Bradley’s mother, will be held at Burleson Church Sunday, December 23, from 2:00-4:00 PM.
Curtis Tidwell, husband of Janet and a long-time member of Keene Church, passed away on Tuesday. Plans are in progress for a January 6 memorial service at Keene Church.
This year’s Christmas tree offering supports our air conditioning project. Find the red gift envelope in your pew or at the welcome desk! Look for the two asterisks in your bulletin program to know when to go forward to put your gift on the tree. Thank you for your generosity!
Donations Needed by December 31, 2018 – $383,904.00
Donations Received through December 15, 2018 – $325,397.10
Amount still needed this month – $ 58,506.90
Sanctuary HVAC (air conditioning) total cost – $550,000.00
Sanctuary HVAC project donations received thru December 15, 2018 – $258,041.02
Amount still needed – $291,958.98
KAES gymnasium project total cost target (phase 1) – $750,000.00
Keene Church donations received through December 15, 2018 – $211,588.46
KAES direct donations received through November 30, 2018 – $315,120.79
Amount still needed (phase 1) – $223,290.75
Today’s offering: Texas Vision; Next week: Lake Whitney Ranch
The story of Jesus’ birth resounds with music that has inspired composers for 2,000 years. The angels’ song is an all-time favorite. Often called the Gloriaafter its first word in the Latin translation, it is the basis of modern choral works, traditional Christmas carols, and ancient liturgical chants.
Joseph Bayly has written a wonderful poem about the meaning of Christmas.
Praise God for Christmas.
Praise Him for the Incarnation, for the Word made flesh. . . .
Tonight I will sing praise to the Father who stood
on heaven’s threshold and said farewell to His
Son as He stepped across the stars to Bethlehem
And I will sing praise to the infinite, eternal Son,
Who became most finite, a baby Who would one day
be executed for my crime.
Praise Him in the heavens, praise Him in the stable, praise Him in my heart.” *
This Christmas, give glory to God for your rescue, Forever Family!
Encourage your friends to grab on to Jesus’ saving hand, too!
Your Keene Church Pastors
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!